Does one's own and one's spouse's education affect overall and cause-specific mortality in the elderly?

Dena H. Jaffe*, Z. Eisenbach, Y. D. Neumark, O. Manor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine educational gradients in overall and cause-specific mortality among elderly married men and women and their spouses. Methods: Using the census-based Israel Longitudinal Mortality Study (1983-92), 13 573 married men and 6563 married women were identified who were aged 70-89 years at baseline. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess the strength of the association between education and overall and cause-specific mortality. Results: Educational gradients for own and spouse's mortality varied by gender and cause of death. In particular, in relation to cardiovascular disease, men married to uneducated wives experienced elevated mortality risks [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.30; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.11-1.52]. Women were generally unaffected by their husband's education, except for those who died from non-breast cancer, for whom husband's low education had a harmful effect (HR = 1.98; 95% CI 1.26-3.11). Conclusions: Mortality among elderly married persons is associated with one's own and one's spouse's educational achievement. Research using partner's education as a proxy for one's own attainment may be omitting valuable information regarding these and other health risks.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1409-1416
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dena H Jaffe is the recipient of the Golda Meir Trust post-doctoral fellowship. Data were created by grant 93-00015/2 from the US–Israel Binational Science Foundation.


  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Education
  • Elderly
  • Mortality
  • Spouse


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